March 2, 2019

Popcorn Ceilings

When I was little, I had a purple bedroom at the top of a big set of wooden stairs, on the second story of our house. I used to lay awake in my twin bed, under my Cabbage Patch Kids comforter, and count the ceiling tiles as I tried to fall asleep.

I'd count the columns across the top and then count the rows from top to bottom. Then I'd count the number of tiles in each and multiply them together to get a total number of tiles. Then I'd count each and every tile to check myself and make sure they were all still there.

It was an old house, with lots of little eccentricities, like a closet that connected two rooms through what I believed to be a secret passage.

However that was not the house I consider to be my childhood home.

My childhood home was a house where I lived for the longest with my family, five-ish years, before graduating and heading off to my so-called grown-up life. There were no ceiling tiles to count because that house has popcorn ceilings.

Every time I hear the term it make me think of something delicious. Apparently these are also sometimes called cottage cheese ceilings, and even though I like cottage cheese, this makes my stomach turn.

I'd lay in my bed and try to find some sort of pattern to make sense of the splats and spatters. When there was none, I counted other things instead. The number of days until my next birthday. How many pounds I thought I needed to lose in order to fit into a certain size of pants. How much time had passed since I'd last seen or heard from my biological dad.

Even now that I live in a home with smooth ceilings, I still count these things (16, 27, and case you were wondering).

We've had a lot of rain lately. I was sitting in my living room and happened to glance upward and saw a brown line on the ceiling that hadn't been there before. Water, as it always does, found a way in.

This is both disturbing (anybody got a good roofer?) and comforting at the same time. Comforting because it reminds me that things will find a way.

I've been a mess this week. I've been someone who in the past I would have judged...harshly. I just couldn't seem to hold it all together. And I'm terrible at asking for help. I want to do it all, on my own. And I want to reserve the right to feel self-righteous if I'm able to and mad as hell if I can't.

I can't be the only one like this. Surely there's more of us who struggle with this distinct flavor of malfunction. I know, I know....blame our childhoods, blah blah. And maybe I do feel an urge to blame on occasion.

But that doesn't really accomplish anything.

I don't have any wisdom here. Yet. I just know I woke up alive today and that's more than some can say.

Author Matt Haig says, "Be a mess. It's fine. The universe is a mess. Galaxies are drifting all over the place. To be tidy is to be out of tune with the cosmos."

And along those same lines, my own dear husband who mainly posts screenshots from 80s horror movies, shared this on Facebook:

“Consider again that dot [Earth]. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there - on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” -- Carl Sagan

I'm clinging to my mote, praying for a sunbeam. I hope you can do the same. And if you happen to be staring up at the chaos of a popcorn ceiling, maybe you can find some beauty there too.